Bay Guardian Makes 40th Annual Election Endorsements

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Here are the San Francisco Bay Guardian‘s 40th annual set of election endorsements, from the perspective of an independent, locally owned and edited newspaper.

Our recommendations for the Nov. 7 election: Re-elect Daly. Rosenthal for District 8 supervisor. Kim, Twomey, and Maufas for school board. Yes on I. Yes, yes, yes on 89. No, no, no on 90. More …

Editor’s Notes by Tim Redmond Prop. 90 zombies. There’s something scary happening in Bayview–Hunters Point, and it’s not the redevelopment bulldozers.

The 2006 political candidates let loose with us on The Endorsement Tapes: unedited, uncensored interviews with candidates for local office. Just added: Krissy Keefer, Starchild, John Garamendi, Dan Kelly, and more.

Sup. Sophie Maxwell -Candidate for Supervisor, District 10
“Redevelopment in the Bay View is different.”

Sup. Bevan Dufty -Candidate for Supervisor, District 8
“I’m willing to piss people off on both sides of the [landlord-tenant] issue.”

Jaynry Mak – Candidate for Supervisor, District 4
“I would have to look at it.”

Alix Rosenthal – Candidate for Supervisor, District 8
“We’re going to make it extremely expensive to build market-rate housing, in terms of the community benefits.”

Mauricio Vela – Candidate for School Board
“I probably would lean toward getting rid of [ROTC} … but it would be difficult.”

Marie Harrison -Candidate for Supervisor, District 10
“The one thing I did learn from Willie Brown is that an MOU means I understand that you understand that I don’t have to do a damn thing on this paper.”

Starchild -Candidate for Supervisor, District 8 and Philip Berg -Libertarian Candidate for Congress
“Nobody will invade Switzerland. Everyone has guns, M-16s and AK-47s and grenade launchers in their living rooms.”

Bruce Wolfe – Candidate for Community College Board
“When you ask where the money is, you want a trail where the money is, the answer you get is it’s in a fungible account.”

Kim-Shree Maufas -Candidate for School Board
“My kid was in JROTC …. I like the community, I liked the structure, I liked the commitment to family. .. I absolutely could not stand the military recruitment.”

Hydra Mendoza – Candidate for School Board
“There are some schools that are not serving our children.”

Krissy Keefer – Green Party Candidate for Congress
“I’m running against a ghost”

John Garamendi – Candidate for Lieutenant Governor
“Phil Angeledes is wrong [about taxes] in the context of our time.”

Dan Kelly School Board Member
“I don’t think JROTC is a terrific program … it doesn’t teach leadership skills, it teaches follow-ship skills.”

State races and propositions:

This race ought to be a lot closer than it is — and the fact that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is well ahead in most polls speaks to the poor quality of news media coverage that has allowed the job of governor to be all about expensive campaign commercials and misleading sound bites.

Lieutenant Governor – JOHN GARAMENDI
John Garamendi’s been kicking around California politics since the 1970s. He’s been in the State Assembly and Senate, ran three times for governor, and was the state’s first elected insurance commissioner.

Secretary of State – DEBRA BOWEN
Bowen, a termed-out state senator, has gone after the manufacturers of voting machines, is demanding accuracy and reliability, and is openly saying that some of this technology is an invitation to fraud.

Controller – JOHN CHIANG
Our first choice for this job was Joe Dunn, a state senator and former consumer lawyer who led the legislature’s investigation into the Enron scandal. But John Chiang, a member of the Board of Equalization, beat him in the Democratic primary, and we’re willing to endorse him.

Treasurer – BILL LOCKYER
Bill Lockyer’s a disappointment, mostly because he could have been so much more. He’s way better than Republican Claude Parrish, so we’ll endorse him. If he wants to move up in the future though, he’ll have to do more with this office than he did with the last one.

Attorney General – JERRY BROWN
Brown is one of the most interesting and unpredictable politicians in the country. As a candidate for AG, he’s talking about protecting a woman’s right to choose and defending stem-cell research, aggressively taking on environmental crimes (something he’s always been good on) — and enforcing the death penalty, even though he doesn’t believe in it.

Insurance Commissioner – CRUZ BUSTAMANTE
Like a lot of politicians on the ballot this fall, Cruz Bustamante seems to be looking for a place to park for a few years while he figures out his next move. Still, he’s talking about forcing insurers to cut workers’ compensation rates when profits are soaring.

Board of Equalization, District 1 – BETTY YEE
Yee’s been solid: unlike Migden, she seems happy to stick around for a while (and isn’t just looking for higher office) and has been aggressive at collecting money from wealthy and powerful businesses.

Senate, District 8 – LELAND YEE
There are plenty of reasons to be disappointed with Leland Yee…and yet, Yee can surprise you. He’s been strong on open government issues — and he has no apparent loyalty to anyone else in local politics.

Assembly, District 12 – BARRY HERMANSON
Barry Hermanson, a small-business person and longtime community activist, is running on the Green Party ticket. Hermanson has a long and distinguished record in town. Among other things, he was the main sponsor of the city’s minimum-wage law and put thousands of dollars of his own money into passing it.

Assembly, District 13 – MARK LENO
Mark Leno is a case against term limits. He’s done a great job in Sacramento, has risen to a leadership position, has managed to pass some legislation that seemed impossible at the start, and has been a strong progressive on issues across the board.

Assembly, District 14 – LONI HANCOCK
Loni Hancock is one of the assembly’s leading advocates for single-payer health insurance. She’s also an outspoken advocate for abused women and a solid environmentalist. She fully deserves another term.

Assembly, District 16 – SANDRÉ SWANSON
Sandré Swanson …has the political experience to jump right into the job and the good old-fashioned progressive instincts to be a totally reliable vote. He’s against the death penalty and new prison construction, and in favor of raising taxes on the rich and eliminating the Proposition 13 protection for commercial property owners.

This is one of the more cynical election-year moves we’ve seen in a while — and we’ve seen a lot. Proposition 83 is supposed to be about tougher penalties for sex offenders; it’s actually about attempting to embarrass Democrats in a close-fought November contest.

With California’s population growing by half a million people a year and with images of Hurricane Katrina still fresh in voters’ minds, supporters of Proposition 84 argue that the state needs to do all it can to preserve beaches, forests, rivers, and streams before they’re lost to sprawl…

Proposition 85 would amend California’s Constitution to require a doctor about to perform an abortion for a woman under the age of 18 to notify her parents or legal guardians within 48 hours, although emancipated minors and emergency cases would be exempt. Doctors who ignore this ruling would be subject to fines. It’s a terrible, ugly proposal that quite literally will put the lives of thousands of young women at risk.

Proposition 86 would impose a new, 13-cent tax on each cigarette distributed in the state of California. That’s about $2.60 a pack, up from the current 87 cents a pack. While the jump is sizable, it would generate revenues of more than $2 billion annually by the end of the decade.

Proposition 87 -OIL COMPANY TAX – YES
Major oil-producing states like Alaska and Texas impose a drilling tax that brings in billions of dollars annually for state services. Yet oil producers in California pay only chump change through corporate income taxes and regulatory fees. Proposition 87 would force the oil dealers, who produce about 230 million barrels of oil across the state each year, to pay their fair share. This tax could earn California as much as $4 billion beginning in 2007 to be spent on alternative-energy programs.

Proposition 88 would establish a $50 annual tax on most parcels of land in California to fund improvements in public education. Thanks in part to Proposition 13, the 1978 measure that prevented local government from raising property taxes, school spending in the state is abysmally low; this would add $470 million a year to K–12 school funding.

Our dysfunctional political system and the shortsighted policies it creates won’t change until we have serious campaign finance reform. This measure would create the best of all possible campaign systems, similar to the ones now working well in Arizona and Maine.

Proposition 90 is by far the worst item on the November California ballot, a draconian measure that could potentially eliminate a wide range of government regulations — from rent control and zoning to workplace safety and environmental laws — and bankrupt local agencies that in any way try to limit what a property owner can do with land or buildings.

In general, we agree with the basic premise of this measure: fuel taxes should be used for transportation system projects (particularly mass transit and other alternatives to the automobile, although advocates of this measure focus on freeways). But to lock that basic rule of thumb into an unbreakable mandate would be disastrous to California during lean budget years.

General obligation bonds seem almost like free money, but they really aren’t. This measure would raise nearly $20 billion and cost the state almost double that over the next 30 years. That might be fine if it were building a smart transportation system that considered global warming instead of pouring most of a huge chunk of money into freeways and roads.

Proposition 1C – HOUSING BOND – YES
California has a critical, unmet need for more affordable housing, particularly for low-income seniors, working families, military veterans, and those with disabilities. This $2.85 billion bond measure addresses that need, helping renters, those trying to buy a home, and battered women and children who need temporary shelter.

This $10.4 billion investment in California schools is an investment in the future of the state. The measure allocates $7.3 billion for K–12 facilities and $3.1 billion for those in our colleges. We need at least that much just to get to adequate.

Before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, officials knew the levees there weren’t strong enough to withstand a major storm surge. Similarly, officials with the Army Corps of Engineers and the state say the delta levees of Northern California will fail during a major sustained storm, endangering human life and billions of dollars in property. Beyond guarding against that happening, this $4.1 billion bond would also improve the state’s drinking water system and help prevent pollution of our streams and ocean.

Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal justices -CONFIRM ALL
California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal judges have to face the voters immediately after they’re appointed, then once every 12 years. That’s a good thing. …Rejecting judges ought to be a right reserved for the really bad cases. Nobody on the list this year meets that standard.

San Francisco races and propositions:

Assessor-recorder – PHIL TING
After two scandal-plagued assessors in a row, Phil Ting is a breath of fresh air. Ting is running unopposed this time, but he likely would have won our endorsement anyway because of the quiet professionalism that he has brought to this office.

Public Defender – JEFF ADACHI
No one’s even bothering to mount a challenge against San Francisco’s popular public defender, Jeff Adachi. A deputy public defender for 15 years, Adachi was first elected to the top position in 2002.

BART Board of Directors, District 8 – EMILY DRENNAN
Emily Drennan, an environmentalist (and director of Walk San Francisco) who is full of good ideas and energy. Drennan is just the kind of new energy the BART board needs.

Board of Supervisors, District 2 -DAVE KIDDOO (WRITE-IN)
Kiddoo is a project manager for EAH, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing, who holds solidly progressive views on a wide range of issues and was encouraged to run by the League of Pissed Off Voters. He pulled candidacy papers Sept. 27 and has until Oct. 24 to turn them in and qualify as an official write-in candidate. It’s likely he’ll qualify.

Board of Supervisors, District 4 – JAYNRY MAK
Mak isn’t perfect, but she’s far better than the alternative — and in some ways better than her former boss. She talks about making San Francisco a place where working families can thrive.

Board of Supervisors, District 6 – CHRIS DALY
We’re still very, very glad that Chris Daly is on the Board of Supervisors. Daly’s an activist who happened to get into elective office. It was sort of an odd fit at first, but he’s made it work in a way that’s been great for his district and great for the city. He’s smart, engaged, hard working, full of ideas (six of the measures on the ballot this fall are his), and not afraid to take tough stands.

Board of Supervisors, District 8 – ALIX ROSENTHAL
Rosenthal told us that she supports tough measures to block Ellis Act evictions, including a ban on condo conversions for any building emptied of tenants with that law. She supports road closures in Golden Gate Park on Saturdays. She wants to substantially increase the fees and affordable housing requirements on market-rate development projects.

Board of Supervisors, District 10
We’ve had problems with Sup. Sophie Maxwell. But she’s been good on tenant issues and affordable housing and has worked with Sup. Ross Mirkarimi on developing a progressive approach to the homicide problem that’s plaguing their two districts. She wasn’t exactly a dynamic leader in the fight to close down Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s Bayview–Hunters Point power plant, but in the end, she did the right thing. We endorsed Harrison, Maxwell’s chief opponent, in her first campaign for this seat. We love her passion, her knowledge of the neighborhood, and her fiery activism. We love the way she worked tirelessly to shut down the power plant. We appreciate her unwavering support for public power. She’s aggressive in demanding that jobs from all the public projects in the district go to district residents and that the community controls its own economic development. Harrison is the second-best candidate in the field, but at this point we can’t put her at the top of the list. By default, we’re going with Maxwell.

San Francisco Board of Education
Our three choices — Jane Kim, Robert Twomey, and Kim-Shree Maufas — are not perfect. All of them bring some drawbacks to the job. But they are clearly the best qualified and the most likely to help bring an institution with plenty of challenges — and tremendous promise — into the future.

San Francisco Community College District Board of Trustees
Finally, some good candidates are running for the board that oversees San Francisco’s tarnished gem of a community college system. It’s about time. The district serves 100,000 students, provides junior college degrees, adult education, and a path to the California State University and University of California systems — and has been a godawful mess for years.

Proposition A – SCHOOL BONDS – YES
This is the second part of a long-term bond program to upgrade old and deteriorating school facilities. Money approved in 2003 is being used to upgrade facilities at a third of the district schools. Proposition A would add $450 million to that program for the remaining 64 schools in the district, which are overdue for basic improvements like Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, seismic upgrades, and fire, health, and safety improvements, including hazardous waste removal.

Proposition C would change the formula for how salaries are set for six elected officials: the mayor, city attorney, public defender, assessor-recorder, treasurer, and sheriff. Under this proposal, the Civil Service Commission would be charged with polling other counties in the Bay Area for a new average base for these officials and then adjusting from there every five years.

But Proposition D is written very broadly — and every media law expert we contacted agreed that it has the potential to conflict with the Sunshine Ordinance and could be interpreted by a judge to bar the public disclosure of information that ought to be public. And frankly, we’re not convinced that Prop. D is going to protect anything that isn’t already covered by state and federal laws.

Proposition E – PARKING TAX – YES
This measure accomplishes two important goals: giving the city a little more money to help provide vital public services and offering a mild disincentive for people to drive their cars downtown. By increasing the current parking tax of 25 percent to 35 percent and including certain valet parking services that are now excluded, the measure is expected to generate about $20 million.

Proposition F – PAID SICK LEAVE – YES
About 116,000 workers in San Francisco — mostly women and people of color in low-wage jobs — don’t get paid for sick time. That means they work sick and send their sick kids to school, don’t go to the doctor to get the preventive care they need, or stay home without getting paid. None of these are good options from either an economic or public health perspective.

Dubbed by its authors on the Board of Supervisors “the Small Business Protection Act,” this measure ensures that corporate behemoths like Wal-Mart and Target go through a public hearing before they’re allowed to move into a neighborhood commercial district and displace small, locally owned businesses.

This measure would increase the amount of money landlords are required to pay tenants when they’re forced to move out through no fault of their own.

This is a wonderful idea, something that will be good for the city, good for public debate — and ultimately, we suspect, good for Mayor Gavin Newsom. Sponsored by Sup. Chris Daly, Proposition I simply requires the mayor to appear once a month at a Board of Supervisors meeting to answer questions

Prop. J would mark an official recognition by the voters of a major city that Bush and Cheney have violated the Constitution and deserve to be removed from office. It might even help push Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who could be the next House speaker, to allow a serious inquiry into impeachable offenses.

It’s tough enough for the young and resilient to get by in San Francisco these days. It can be brutal for seniors and disabled residents. Proposition K won’t have any immediate legal impact, but it declares that the city and county of San Francisco need to work harder to make life easier for a particularly vulnerable population.

National races:

We’re supporting her Green Party foe, Todd Chretien. Chretien’s an articulate activist who is running on a platform of opposing the Iraq war (and beginning an immediate withdrawal), repealing the PATRIOT Act, ending the death penalty, and creating a national health system. Sure, it’s a protest vote, but it’s a good one.

Congress, District 6 – LYNN WOOLSEY
Lynn Woolsey’s one of the progressive Democrats who will be in a position of significant clout — perhaps even a subcommittee chair — if Democrats regain the house. She’s been a strong voice against the war, and we’re happy to endorse her.

Congress, District 7 – GEORGE MILLER
George Miller’s going to win a 16th term and will continue to be a reasonably solid environmental voice on the Resources Committee, which he will probably chair if the Democrats win in November. We didn’t like his friendly relationship with the Bush administration over the No Child Left Behind Act, but we’ll endorse him for another term.

Congress, District 8 – KRISSY KEEFER
Our nod goes to Keefer, a longtime artist and activist who wants a quick withdrawal of troops from Iraq and more human federal policies at home. Again: a protest vote, but it’s worth sending a message — particularly if the Democrats win — that Pelosi can’t forget she actually represents San Francisco.

Congress, District 9 – BARBARA LEE
No question here: Barbara Lee is one of the best members of Congress, a courageous lone voice against the invasion of Iraq and a strong progressive across the board.

Congress, District 12 – NO ENDORSEMENT
Tom Lantos is a foreign-policy hawk who doesn’t represent the overwhelmingly antiwar sentiment in this San Francisco–Peninsula district. It’s tough to challenge a 12-term incumbent, but the time for Lantos to retire is long past. Some strong Democrat needs to take him on in 2008.

Congress, District 13 – PETE STARK
Pete Stark pulls no punches, and at times even Democrats are amazed by his harsh attacks on the Bush administration. He’s a member of the Out of Iraq caucus and favors immediate withdrawal.